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GRO9 - Minimising Plymouth's waste

GRO9 - Minimising Plymouth's waste


Sustainable management of waste is a key issue for Plymouth with opportunities for enhancing the reputation of the city for environmental stewardship and as a green city. Waste as a resource and the waste hierarchy is an important part of this strategy.


The city will adopt an approach to waste management that strives to achieve the most sustainable solution with the minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions, subject to the constraints of feasibility and financial viability. As such, the City will proactively support the development of a circular economy to gain maximum value from materials and products by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, and then recovering material value at the end of life. In order to achieve this outcome, the City will review its policies and plans which currently support the city's waste management in the following order: 1. Prevention; 2. Preparing for reuse; 3. Recycling; 4. Other recovery; 5. Disposal, and will aim to achieve a 65 per cent recycling rate and a reduction in carbon emissions across the waste management hierarchy.

  1. Waste prevention. In order to sustain the delivery of high levels of waste reduction, the city will:
    1. Continue to actively undertake waste prevention and minimisation awareness raising campaigns and educational activities.
    2. Promote and support home composting for garden, vegetable and fruit wastes.
    3. Support those engaged in the development of a circular economy and the extension of product life.
  2. Waste reuse and recycling. The city will:
    1. Continue to proactively assist community and voluntary groups, and businesses which seek to explore, pilot and develop reuse and recycling activities and projects to generate economic and social value.
    2. Enhance its recycling infrastructure and continually seek opportunities to support investment in its Materials Recycling Facility, Household Waste Recycling Centres and the expansion of these and other facilities as viable options for increasing recycling.
  3. Waste recovery. In relation to residual waste that is still left to be managed and which is not committed as part of the waste stream to be processed through the Devonport North Yard Energy from Waste Plant, the city will strongly encourage the use of emerging green technologies for waste recovery. In this respect, the city will give proactive assistance to public sector organisations, community and voluntary groups, and businesses which seek to explore, pilot and develop the use of green technologies.
  4. Municipal waste management outcomes. The city will continue to minimise the amount of municipal waste that is landfilled, so that less than 2 per cent of waste arising are landfilled. Additionally, the city will identify detailed actions to achieve ambitious waste management outcomes to maximise the prevention, reuse and recycling of waste.
  5. Planning powers will be used to ensure that development contributes positively to the achievement of the waste management hierarchy.
  6. In respect of the processing of incinerator bottom ash from the Energy from Waste plant, which forms part of the waste stream generated for Torbay and south and west Devon, the city will expect a regional solution to be found given the city's urban nature.


The management of all of the waste streams generated by people and businesses and that arise in Plymouth are guided by the waste hierarchy. These are identified as municipal, commercial and industrial, and construction and demolition waste. The principle that waste should be driven higher up the hierarchy is set out in the policy, in order to achieve the most environmentally sustainable approach to waste management. The guiding principle behind this approach is that waste should be seen as a resource to be reused either directly or through recycling, rather than being disposed of.

It is important that the opportunities for enhancing the reputation of the city for environmental stewardship and as a green city is maximised. Waste as a resource and the waste hierarchy is an important part of this strategy.

Plymouth's waste needs assessment (2014) identifies that there are small quantities of low level radioactive waste generated in Plymouth, primarily from the healthcare sector. Given the specialist nature of treatment/management requirements it is not anticipated that any specific provision will need to be made in Plymouth for the management of this waste. It also identifies that there are movements of hazardous waste in and out of the city for treatment at specialist facilities. It is not expected that significant new specialist treatment facilities for such waste will be needed during the time covered by the Plymouth Plan.

Finally, Devonport Dockyard undertakes strategic defence operations, including work on nuclear submarines. Any specialist waste streams that arise from these operations will be expected to be managed by the site operators. Proposals which facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of any wastes from the city are supported but it is not considered that a treatment facility within the city would be appropriate.

The Joint Local Plan identifies how the planning powers will be used in support of this policy.

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